Sunday Early Edition AHL Mailbag: A quad-A analysis of Abbotsford, Arturs Silovs, Arshdeep Bains, and Aatu Räty

Photo credit:Cody Severtson
Cody Severtson
5 months ago
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Welcome Canucks fans to a brand new edition of the Sunday Early Edition AHL Mailbag.
I know. The title’s a mouthful. I’ll workshop something better. Maybe give me some suggestions in the comment section below!
For the AHL Mailbag, we’ll probably push for questions once or twice a month. Throw your questions about the Farm team in every Farmies™ post-game recap, and we’ll be sure to include it in the next edition!
With that, let’s get to some question-answering!
Questions from Twitter
The Vancouver Canucks just played one of them!
The San Jose Sharks are baaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaad. Like, REALLY bad.
If there was an exhibition game between the Sharks and the Abbotsford Canucks presently, I genuinely believe that the talent disparity would be evened out.
No disrespect to hometown kid Kyle Burroughs, but he’s running San Jose’s first power play unit! It’s not like they’re missing bodies off the blue line, either. This is what they’ve got on the back end: $7-million-dollar 36-year-old Marc-Edouard Vlasic, Matt Benning, Mario Ferraro, and a rotating cast of U25 AHL tweener types who aren’t quite ripe enough for regular NHL ice time. It’s bleak.
The Abbotsford Canucks have a deeply inexperienced blue line at the AHL level, so maybe they get picked apart by the likes of Anthony Duclair, William Eklund, and Tomas Hertl. But the likes of Sheldon Dries, Nils Åman, and Arshdeep Bains could legitimately deny them the ability to produce at even strength. They would have to thrive on the power play. Which if you’re an NHL team and your best chance against an AHL club is special teams, then you are very much not a good team.
Nothing nefarious is going on with Klim. After his first two games in which he posted a single shot on net while on-ice for one goal-for and one against, Klimovich was due to spend one night in the press box as a healthy scratch in the club’s first home game against the Calgary Wranglers. Something happened between the press box, Saturday’s morning skate and Saturday’s game because, as reported by CHEKTV’s Rick Dhaliwal, Klimovich sustained a shoulder injury and has been out of action since.
We went back and looked at the broadcast footage because Klimovich is always the last guy off the ice during the warm-up skate. Klim did not lace up for the home debut against Calgary, nor did he lace up in the warm-up skate for the Saturday game.
I don’t think so, no.
It’s really important to note the difference in defensive quality from last season to this season. The environment that Silovs is in presently is radically different from last year’s.
Consider that last season, the Abbotsford Canucks rolled out a lineup featuring a combination of these players: Sheldon Dries, Will Lockwood, Justin Dowling, Phil Di Giuseppe, Christian Wolanin, Noah Juulsen, Brady Keeper, Guillaume Brisebois, Jack Rathbone, Vasily Podkolzin, John Stevens, Kyle Rau, and Jett Woo. That’s an experienced group with a boatload of NHL/AHL-tweener types. As such, the club finished second only to the Calder Cup Champions in the fewest shots allowed per game, with the 10th-highest rate of shots for and a below-average shooting percentage. They were legitimately top of the league at controlling play at 5v5.
The current roster features a lot of guys that are a couple of rookies, second-year pros, or career bottom-of-the-lineup/ECHL depth call-up pieces, and just a few AHL/NHL tweener, or better, types. The most experienced defencemen on this team are Christian Wolanin, Matt Irwin, and Jett Woo. Two of those guys are playing big minutes on a 1st pair together, with one of those guys possibly not being best suited for the role. Irwin, who has footspeed concerns, is lined up on a pairing with rookie Filip Johansson, who has footspeed concerns of his own and can, at times, look a little like Olli Juolevi defending in space. The third pair consists of rookies Akito Hirose and Cole McWard, who have been fine but are still adjusting to a full season of pro play against a competitive division.
At forward, there is Sheldon Dries and John Stevens as experienced vets with a track record of success at the AHL level, then guys like Nils Åman and Vasily Podkolzin who are knocking on the door for a full-time NHL job but who have kinks in their games to iron out. Then there is a host of guys in their 1st or 2nd year of pro play who are still learning the finer details of pro play: skating, wall work, rotations, forechecking, neutral-zone pressure, etc. That’s your Max Sasson, Aatu Räty, Aidan McDonough, Josh Bloom, Linus Karlsson, AND Chase Wouters types.
Through nine games played, this green Abbotsford club has found ways to win (good!) despite conceding the fifth-most shots on a per-game basis (bad!).
Should this young group refine their defensive details and improve their breakout and in-zone coverage, then I’m confident that Silovs’ save percentage will regress, and the number of ugly goals against he’s currently allowing will decrease in due time.
In conjunction with the above answer, I really believe the team is missing a Kyle Rau/Justin Dowling quad-A player to alleviate the pressure on the youths.
Last season, Rau finished with a filthy 5v5 goal differential of plus-14, and Dowling finished with a 5v5 goal differential of plus-12. Both guys played key roles at 5v5 in the top six, power play, and penalty kill for Abbotsford. Right now, they don’t have that experienced elite rate-scoring two-way AHL forward to balance out the forward lines. Right now, the experience is located primarily on the top two lines, and the bottom six is very much an inexperienced mix of 1st/2nd-year pros and ECHL depth. A quad-A guy that could teach the youths and plug holes in the bottom six’s defensive play would go a long way.
Upgrade the bottom six? Upgrade being the keyword?
That’s a tough one.
Let’s look at the Canucks current bottom six, courtesy of DailyFaceoff’s starting line combos!
I don’t know about you, but that’s a tough group to outplay and steal a lineup spot from! Especially when you consider that Teddy Bleugers isn’t in it yet, and Dakota Joshua is out as a healthy scratch.
While Arshdeep Bains has been a revelation in his sophomore season, Nils Åman has looked totally capable as a two-way centerman, and Vasily Podkolzin was looking like an elite scoring threat before his injury; that’s still a really tough group to crack.
Let’s assume that Bleugers returns to the lineup, Beauvillier is pushed to the fourth line, and both Studnicka and Joshua are healthy scratches. If Podkolzin returns from his concussion protocol as good as new and continues to look like an NHL black ace playing against AHLers, then I could definitely see him stealing games from Anthony Beauvillier. Beauvillier is in the final year of a deal that pays him $4.15-million; barring some kind of surge as a Selke-caliber forward, I can’t imagine he features as a piece of the Vancouver Canucks future. Therefore, it’d make sense for Podkolzin to get that shot.
Questions from the R/Canucks Discord server
I hate to break it to #1 Aatu Räty enthusiast, but like Anatoly Dyatlov hearing about a radiation measure of 3.6 Roentgen, Räty has been not great, not terrible.
While deployed primarily in a bottom six role with no power play time and some limited reps on the team’s penalty kill, Räty has come out completely even on the goalscoring ledger: Six goals for, five of which came at 5v5, and five goals against at 5v5.
Räty has spent most of his games on a line with players like Aidan McDonough, Chase Wouters, John Stevens, or Marc Gatcomb. Considering his usage, it’s encouraging that he is tied with Linus Karlsson and Chase Wouters for the third-most points at 5v5.
I don’t know if his deployment is a cause for concern, though his skills as a playmaker feel sorely underutilized by the club’s power play, which ranks 15th in the AHL.
Sure, the footspeed is still a work in progress, and the physicality is sparse for someone his size, but there’s surely a role for him on the man advantage as a distributor or as the net-front presence. Worth remembering that Räty is just a couple of months older than Danila Klimovich. Sure, you’d want the prospect returned in the Bo Horvat trade to be a bona fide NHLer from the get-go, but sometimes, these guys take time to come into their own—especially 6’2″ centremen who play a defence-oriented distributor game.
I mean, it’s Arshdeep Bains.
Do I even need to elaborate?
The guy has a two-point lead in AHL scoring, tied with teammate Christian Wolanin for the most assists in the league! By points-per-game, he’s 6th in the AHL behind San Jose’s Daniil Guschin, Calgary’s Jeremie Poirier, Chicago’s Joey Anderson, the Chicago Wolves’ Max Comtois, and the Laval Rocket’s Olivier Galipeau. Bains has played the most games out of all players in the top 20 in points-per-game to boot.
Pretty, pretty, pretty good.
Speed-round Questions
First of all, how dare you make me betray my old hood like that. Shout out to the Cariboo area by the ol’ Foggy Don’t.
I’ll give them credit, though; the one thing Abbotsford has going for it that Coquitlam doesn’t is their TWO Popeyes drive-throughs! Coquitlam just got their first, and it was way overdue.
Mr. Content-King Stephan Roget missed the call for Abbotsford-related questions, but we’ll give him a pass because his work single-handedly keeps the NationNetwork afloat.
Unfortunately, my name doesn’t lend itself to too many pun opportunities. At least, not ones I can put into print that won’t get me fired.
With a name like Cody Severtson (pronounced like Damon Severson, but with a T), there isn’t much to work with.
See, there really isn’t much to work with. There is one you could use with the word blow. But, again, I really don’t want to lose my CanucksArmy position ten games into my sophomore season.

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